Monday, February 15, 2010

Under Cherry Flowers

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

We've been here before.
We know the twists and turns
of this argument—
the ground scorched along Route 86
from the crash we witnessed last year.
The Salton Sea
ever increasing in salinity
(and dead fish)
result of unchecked flooding
from the red-colored river
that nearly destroyed us all.
The mud pots
where we've almost gotten stuck
so many times
spotted red
viscous, boiling.
The Algodones Dunes
(just west of the Chocolate Mountains)
which have frequently been a barrier
to human movement,
including ours.
Can it be a coincidence
that this landscape also served
as the site of desert warfare training
in WWII?
We never made it
to El Centro


Thanks, Cynthia, for today’s poems, and to Katy Brown for the spring photos. Katy will be reading at Cynthia's Marathon of Love Poems on Friday; see below.

Cynthia Linville teaches English at California State University, Sacramento and serves as poetry editor of Poetry Now and managing editor of Convergence: an online journal and poetry and art ( She has hosted a Friday night reading series for two-and-a-half years which has alternated between The Vox Gallery and SPC.

Cynthia has been featured as an editor in "A not-so-dumb guide to publishers’ secrets: Now is a good time to write poetry in Sacramento" (Sacramento News & Review, May 7, 2009) and as a poet on both (November 18, 2009) and Bob Stanley's County Lines (a Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission website, November 23, 2009). Over sixty of her poems have been published within the last few years in Sacramento News & Review, Sacramento Bee, Consumnes River Journal, Song of the San Joaquin, Medusa’s Kitchen, Rattlesnake Review, WTF, and Brevities (forthcoming) among others.

Cynthia hopes to see you at her annual Marathon of Love Poems where twenty local poets read about love, lust, and heartache on Friday, February 19, from 7:00-8:30 PM, at HQ for The Arts (1719 25th Street, Sacramento). Free. Refreshments provided. See below for a list of readers. And look over on the Bulletin Board at the right for a photo of the lovely CL.

The world has lost a gentle yet strong force; award-winning poet Lucille Clifton has died of infection at age 73. Her presence has influenced so many. For those who mourn and for those who did not know her, here is a link to her voice, reading at the 2008 Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival:

Lucille Clifton

Patricia Wellingham-Jones writes to remind me, apropos of yesterday’s post, that this weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, nationwide and Canada. “Fun to participate”, she says. ( I used to do something similar for a volunteer program through Cornell University, though that lasts all winter.

I know, I know—Medusa’s Kitchen is full of change, change, change these days, and it seems like it’s going on forever, just like a real kitchen remodel. Well, that’s what happens when I have too much time on my hands. But I hope you’ll keep looking at it, including the very bottom of the Bulletin Board, and farther on into the Big Blue Box and its new section about The Remodel. (Sometimes we save the best for last, like Katy's beautiful daffodil.)

This week in NorCal poetry:

(for a more complete listing of events, go to

•••Weds. (2/17), 7-8:30 PM: Our House Gallery Poetry Series meets at Our House Gallery, 1004 White Rock Road #400, El Dorado Hills (Montano de El Dorado Center, south of Hwy 50 on Latrobe Rd at White Rock Rd). Open mic; if you would like to read, please sign up by 7 PM: Info: 916-933-4278.

•••Thursday (2/18), 12 Noon: Brown Bag Lunch Series at the Central Library, 828 I St., Sacramento. Mary Zeppa and Lawrence Dinkins as hosts. This Third Thursday reading follows close on the heels of Valentine’s Day. There are, of course, many famous poems about romantic love. On 2/18, let’s branch out from that familiar concept. Bring your favorite poems (preferably by a writer other than yourself) about any kind of love. Maybe you’ve read a terrific poem about loving music or sculpture or horses or kite-flying or skateboarding! Let your mind run free.

•••Thurs. (2/18), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe & Juice Bar, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, features the release of Rattlesnake Press's free quarterly WTF #5—poetry from Poetry Unplugged and friends, edited by frank andrick. Also featuring Gene Bloom (excerpts from entrails) and Baby Grand, plus open mic before and after. Get there early to get a seat!

•••Friday (2/19), 7-8:30 PM: A Marathon of Love Poems: Twenty Local Poets Read Poems of Love, Lust, and Heartache at HQ for The Arts, 1719 25th St. (at R) in Sacramento. Free. Refreshments provided. Hosted by Cynthia Linville; info: Material may not be suitable for children.

Readers include:
Katy Brown
Joe Atkins
Josh Fernandez
Rebecca Morrison
James Lee Jobe
Lytton Bell
Alexandra Sage
Jeff Knorr
Frank Andrick
Sibilla Hershey
Jim Benton
Catherine Fraga
Michelle Johnson
Stan Zumbiel
Crawdad Nelson
Quinton Duval
Patricia Hickerson
Brad Henderson
Arnold Robbins

•••Friday (2/19), 7:30 PM: The Other Voice (sponsored by the UU Church of Davis) proudly presents Zoe Keithley and Carlena Wike. The reading begins at 7:30 in the library of the church located 27074 Patwin Road.
Refreshments and open mike follow, so bring along a poem or two to share. Zoe Keithley lives in Sacramento where she leads workshops, consults privately, edits, and hosts quarterly public fiction readings for Story Workshop® Sacramento. A native Chicagoan, she taught writing at Columbia College while earning a Master of Arts in the Teaching of Writing and Master Teacher certificate in the Story Workshop® approach to writing there. She also presented poetry with World Enough And Time, a poetry/flute ensemble, in the Chicago area and the Midwest. Zoe Keithley has completed one novel and has a second near completion. She is a pize-winniing fiction writer in the short story and also writes childrens' stories. She has been a student of the banjo for over twelve years and is just now learning to move out of the key of G.

Carlena Wike’s life straddles the Sacramento River. She lives in Elk Grove but has found community in Davis and hopes to move there in the near future. She won First Prize for her poem, "The Executive", at Valley College in Los Angeles, and has been a featured reader at venues in Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and more recently at The Book Collector and The Other Voice in Davis. She has had poetry and a broadside published by Rattlesnake Press, and her poetry has appeared in Poetry Now. In addition to poetry, Carlena writes essays and corresponds almost daily by letter. Should the USPS go belly up, Carlena hopes to post the historic last letter written on paper, signed in ink, and delivered by mail carrier to some rural address where such documents are read, re-read and cherished.

•••Sat. (2/20), 8 AM-5 PM: The annual California Duck Days will be held at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters, 45211 County Rd. 32B, featuring an exhibit hall with interactive displays such as trout fishing for kids, duck calling and a live bat workshop, as well as field trips. Cost is $20-$25 general, free for children younger than 16. Registration suggested for field trips. Info:



not The Derby or the Red Birds or Wildcats
but Bluegrass (and bluegrass).
The Commonwealth but not much of it
except for those who got rich
removing mountaintops.
land of magnolia trees and road kill,
second cousins and missing teeth,
Hot Brown and Kentucky mean.

—Cynthia Linville



into smoky night
peels dark memories
off my frozen thoughts
(how my arms ached
from holding you so tight
on the back of your Yamaha 750 that night)

tonight flawed dreams float in our wake like grist
(at seventeen we thought
it will always be like this)
now sunken skies grizzle
but cover me only
with dirty silence and ash
this hot thunder can’t last

—Cynthia Linville


—Cynthia Linville

You fell asleep by the campfire
engulfed in mist where you lay
a perfect day.

Your hair smells like the redwoods
your skin tastes like dew—
you wear the wind as a cape
you smile your eyes a bluer blue.

Breath held, we are poised at the edge
between before and after—
will we slide back
or tumble over?


Today's LittleNip:

Under cherry flowers,
none are utter strangers.


Cherry blossoms
—Photo by Katy Brown